GFFR, GFPD train for mass casualty situations
Much of training for first responders centers around preparing for worst case scenarios.
Great Falls Fire Rescue and Great Falls Police Department continued their joint training this year on what’s known as rescue task force so that they can more effectively work together in a mass casualty situation.
On June 23, GFFR and GFPD trained together at North Middle School with about half the patrol division and a battalion of firefighters on a variety of scenarios that included responding to an incident with an active shooter, the first wave of police responders finding and neutralizing the target, followed quickly by teams of police and firefighters to find, treat or move victims quickly, according to Jeremy Jones, GFFR interim chief.
Jones said last year that the rescue task force model has been developed nationwide and involves teaming law enforcement with firefighters/medics to get to victims quicker and treat them onsite or move them as quickly as possible to an operating room, in the case of gunshot victims. The model allows the rescue task force teams to into an active shooter scene before it’s completely secured, in what responders call the “warm zone.”
Lt. Doug Otto of GFPD said that on July 2, that the other half of patrol officers will train with GFFR and Jones said GFFR will train with the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office on two other days.
Last year all three were able to train together, but logistics of COVID and using a school building complicated the plan.
Police and paramedics have different priorities on emergency scenes so the training helps them understand each others operations, terminology and priorities to effectively and efficiently get into a mass casualty scene and treat victims as quickly as possible.
“If something bad does happen, we know how to respond,” Otto said.
GFPD volunteers were playing in the exercise as victims, bad guys and other potential characters responders might encounter in a mass casualty situation.
Otto said they’re also testing the phone system with Benefis Health System to test their communication protocols in case of a mass casualty event.
North Middle School is a larger facility than the building they used last year, adding more scenario options, Jones and Otto said.
The rescue task force teams have two cops and two firefighters that move into a scene quickly with cops providing security for the firefighters and victims while they move a victim or render immediate aid.